Finding one’s way to recuperate requires patience and acceptance of sudden changes to daily routines. A few years ago I missed the whole of the Christmas season when I got a stubborn infection that required two rounds of antibiotics to make my life even bearable. I was so sick I had no energy for any activity. Getting up for the restroom was almost asking too much. I felt imprisoned staying down.
With apologies to a great tune by Walter Kent:
I’ll be home for Christmas, hopefully not in bed.
No more antibiotics, or dizzy pain meds.
I’ll be home for Christmas, maybe out of pain.
No more always stayin’ home, or walking with a cane.
I’ll be home for Christmas, up and having fun.
No more UTI or E coli, or wondering if I’m dead.
I’ll be home for Christmas Cooking up some food.
Taking a walk and singing with glee, to sit by our holiday tree!
Recuperation for Active People
Recuperation is never an easy task for anyone I’ve ever known. But it’s especially hard for those of us I might classify as a bit on the hyper side. We are active, usually getting up during commercials, and are never willing to stay down very long.
Some would say we keep ‘lots of irons in the fire’ as we move among several tasks regularly. Yup, we can get away with it for minor colds and the general run of the mill illnesses.
But when serious injury surgery or infection comes to call it is time to design a different strategy to enable adequate healing.
For these situations there are serious consequences for not allowing ones body adequate healing.
Techniques to Use in Successful Recuperation
A big challenge is holding expectations down to a realistic level to allow healing to take place at its own rate. Patients are sometimes overwhelmed by the sudden and drastic changes in their daily schedules during this healing phase, coupled with the added stress of pain.
When it just seems too hard to do everything the medical professionals recommend, choose one change and make it happen. Success on one is progress toward the goal, and may encourage you to press for continued success on other rehabilitation measures assigned by the doctor.
Also, making a visual chart can be helpful to some individuals. List in simple phrases the doctor’s rehab plan. Besides each write a short task toward that goal. For example:
- Keep foot up. > At 10:00 and 2:00 I’ll spend 30 minutes with it up.
This may only be a step toward the actual goal, but it can make a world of difference if done faithfully.
Pacing One’s Healing by Alternating Resting and Resuming Regular Life
Some of us have a hard time with recuperation since we can’t just sit or lay down for undetermined periods of time.
One alternative is to schedule a down time before you wear completely out, perhaps 2 hours up and 1-2 hours down, or something of that sort. By resting preventively, one can avoid getting so exhausted and pain-ridden that coming back is almost impossible on that day.
If a patient knows the down time will be over an appointed time it may help in staying inactive enough to accomplish the goal of letting healing occur. There is little doubt that growing older may bring about more need for improved recuperation skills.
Having something to look forward to is a vital motivating element. Some people during the rehab phase can fall into depression generated or at least increased by a lack of the rhythm of a regular schedule.
Staying Encouraged While Moving Slower
Over a decade ago we were hit by a driver who ran a red light, had no insurance, and had had her drivers license suspended but was driving anyway in someone else’s car.
My recuperation seemed to go on forever. In addition to pacing myself, I eventually found myself sinking deeper and deeper into discouragement. It was fueled by the pace of healing which seemed to me to be so slow as to be almost nonexistent!
A dear friend got me a box of rocks and told me to drop one a day into a pretty vase. That helped me keep my expectations to more reasonable levels. She assured me that when the box was empty I’d feel better. This enabled me to get my mind off my expectations and just to continue my life and work at a slower pace.
Also, my sister sent me a card which said, ‘The sun also rises and skies can turn blue.” This reminded me of hope and gratefulness.
Thinking of one thing each day to be thankful for helped me frame my struggles toward healing in hope.
Many people find the recuperation period after surgery or illness almost too daunting to achieve. There are realistic compromises one can make, negotiating time for rest and time for the comforts of daily living and working. The rewards for making rehabilitation work are worth it, both in pain reduction and long term recuperation.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.